As you all likely know, the Nets are potential players in a three team deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers, in a deal in which the Nets would receive Jarrett Jack. How will this deal work? That requires looking at 2 recent, likely similar Utah Jazz deals.
Last summer, the Warriors sent the Jazz the long, bad contracts of Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins, along with two first round picks, for Kevin Murphy’s nonguaranteed contract. This allowed the Warriors cap space for Andre Iguodala.
This summer, the Jazz made a similar deal, acquiring Steve Novak’s brutal contract and a second round pick, from the Raptors for Diante Garrett’s nonguaranteed deal. This deal allows the Raptors to be players in 2015 free agency.
What’s happening in these deals for the Jazz? Think logically. The Jazz are rebuilding. As a rebuilding franchise, they care about stockpiling picks and assets for their future. They are not looking into signing free agent talent, and hamstringing their cap. Paying a Luol Deng, a Trevor Ariza, a Paul Pierce is not of import to them. Their goal is to add youth, add picks to the roster.
Which is precisely what the Warriors and Raptors allowed the Jazz to do the last two summers. Last summer, the Jazz figured “we are not signing any free agents. This cap space is just sitting here. Rather than sign random players, let’s take advantage of a team looking to dump salary. But hey, we won’t just let you dump salary here as some salary dump wasteland. Let’s charge them two first round draft picks.” So the Jazz, rather than pay marginal, no impact free agents last summer, charged the Warriors two first round picks to swallow their bad contracts. They replicated that work with the Novak deal this summer.
As for Thornton and Jack? The same will likely apply to the mystery third team we all seek to identify. Per Chris Broussard and Adrian Wojnarowski, the Cavaliers hope to shed Jack’s contract — not for 2015 cap space, but for cap space NOW, to make an effort at signing LeBron. The Nets do not offer that, as if they take Jack’s salary on, they must send out salary (i.e.: send out Marcus Thornton). However, if the Cavs and Nets find a third team with cap space — one who can swallow Thornton’s contract without taking salary on — they could route Jack to Brooklyn, Thornton to that team, and then Cleveland could shed Jack. Cleveland would receive a nonguaranteed deal from that team (like Murphy and Garrett above) — and just waive that player on arrival.
Is Thornton overpaid at nearly $9 million? Sure. But the lottery team receiving Thornton does not care — they’re not trying to win today, and it’s not like they will use that cap space to actually sign anyone meaningful. What’s in it for them? Like Utah, they’ll charge the Cavaliers a pick. Now, they see it as a win. Rather than sign random players to $9 million total, they add Thornton, and get a draft pick for their trouble.
The Nets? They likely would not get a pick here. The third team DEFINITELY would not convey one. Could they get one from Cleveland? That is possible: given their LeBron desperation, I could certainly envision them dumping a second pick in this deal. But I would not bank on it?
The mystery team? Impossible to predict the team, but think a lottery bound team in complete rebuilding mode, which is replete with cap space, and clearly not spending right now.
What Does this Mean for the Nets
It means that a Thornton for Jack trade, which has been reported at multiple different times since prior to the draft, is beginning to look more likely. Which begs the question: why do this trade?
First, the obvious: Livingston is gone. The Nets have a clear need for a second point guard; they like using Deron with another off guard and that’s tough to do if Jorge Gutierrez is your best reserve point.
Second: the Nets, as I have stated a few times before, have one cap exception of $3.3 million dollars, and are otherwised confined to minimum salary deals. They will be hard pressed to find a better point guard than Jack, especially if they use the mini midlevel on Bogdanovic, which they should given the lack of talent available at the price (and lack of upside).
Third, trading Thornton for an upgrade (on a worse contract) is one of the more obvious ways for the Nets to improve. They can trade Deron Brook or Joe, but in all three cases you’re talking about a huge shakeup to the roster. Paul Pierce if traded is likely at a loss. Kevin Garnett: likely to play for the Nets or retire, as that contract is not being dealt. Mirza Teletovic? He’s worth the $3 million he makes, so it’s unlikely he fetches back a better player, given salaries must be matched in deals.
That leaves Thornton. As a player on a one year deal, the Nets can improve by dealing him for a player on a two year deal, who is better, but on a worse contract: Jack fits the bill. Looking around the league, not many players fit the bill. Martell Webster in Washington? If the Nets bring over Bojan and keep Pierce, they have Kirilenko and seem to have enough forwards of that ilk. Thornton for Kevin Martin? Why take on post 2016 salary. Something bigger? Thornton, Markel Brown, and the 2015 second the Nets got for Jason Kidd, for Jeff Green? That does not feel like enough for Green, but Green is a nice player (albeit overpaid). Feel like Ainge will ask for more than we can afford. Thornton, Teletovic, Gutierrez, and the Bucks second for Eric Gordon? The Pelicans are in win now mode and likely do not devalue Gordon into floatsam.
What does Jack Offer
Jack played quality basketball under Mark Jackson in Golden State. He floated through this past season, but when he’s focused, he’s a very valuable piece. He was viewed as a big loss for the Warriors, and legitimately impacted numerous critical games for the Warriors. He’s better at his best than Thornton at his. Thornton was arguably better last year, but given their track records, this feels like a buy low sell high type of transaction for Brooklyn.
In the 2013 Offseason, the Nets came off a 49-33 season and round 1 playoff loss, with a roster that had no financial flexibility through 2016. Management could have decided that such a roster should not be made more expensive: let’s stay the course with this expensive team. It could have decided “we’re not on course to win a title despite being so expensive, let’s rebuild.”
Here’s the thing: the Nets made NEITHER choice. The Nets decided that they could turn a good team into a great team, by dealing three first round draft picks for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry. I repeat: the Nets dealt 3 cost controlled first round picks, two of which are owed $0 next season (2016/2018 picks), for the rights to 2 players in their mid thirties who make 8 figures, and a third player in his mid thirties.
That is clearly a move in which you have decided to go All In. The tag line for the season was we’re in.
I. The Roster at this Moment: What are the Nets getting on this Market?
The salary cap is $67 million. A team over the cap has nothing to spend on outside free agents except cap exceptions. A team that uses the midlevel exception (around $5 million) is hard capped at $81 million. A team that uses the mini midlevel (around $3.3 million) can spend beyond that. The Nets owe $88,524,090 to 9 players: that drops to $76,524,090 and 8 players if KG Retires: Deron, Joe, Kirilenko, KG, Brook, Mirza, Thornton, Plumlee, Teague. Minimum salary adds take up $915,243 in cap space: $915,243 x 6 is about $5.5 million in minimum deals.
Translation: the Nets can spend $3.3 million/year on one non Net – including Bogdanovic, and can only pay the minimum to other non Nets.
Now, with that, let’s take a look at some of the deals struck on this market.
Jodie Meeks got $6 million.
Darren Collison and Chris Kaman got $5 million.
CJ Miles and Ben Gordon got $4.5 million.
Thabo Sefolosha got $4 million.
That’s not every signing but the point is clear: $3.3 million is not buying the Nets much on this market. Period. People need to let go of the idea that a player of Paul Pierce’s caliber is replaceable with $3.3 million, when the market clearly shows what level of player is available at that price: players even lesser than the men above. There is simply no way the Nets sign a free agent better than Pierce, I guess, unless Bojan Bogdanovic is better than Pierce in his rookie year. Given Pierce’s value last year and Bojan’s NBA resume of 0 games, it’s hard to bank on that. And even if you do bank on that, keeping Pierce would not swallow the Nets midlevel exception. The exception does not obtain a replacement for Pierce by definition, as it’s available whether he stays for $40 million, or walks for nothing.
II. Who Uncorked the Narrative That the Nets need to Save Money Now?
Someone needs to explain this one to me. Put your thinking cap on. The Nets had three first round picks at their disposal last summer. First rounders make between $1.1 and $5.5 million per as rookies, with slight escalations, remaining that cheap for about three-four years. The Nets traded players that young, players that cheap, for three players in their mid thirties who made about $32 million combined last year. They deliberately made themselves older and more expensive, in the belief that was a smart course to take to get closer to contention: and I agreed with them!
Yet in spite of that, some are floating the idea – it has not come from the Nets directly but the idea is just hanging around in cyberspace – that the Nets should trade Pierce as a means of getting younger. To which my response is simple: WHAT?!
If the goal was to stay younger, stay cheaper, you don’t do the deal for Pierce and Garnett in the first place: as the deal makes you distinctly older and more expensive. The Nets required KG exercise his option for 2015 as part of the deal, and did it knowing that to retain the pieces for over 1 year that they would have to pay Pierce this summer. But the goal is to get younger? That’s so obviously not the case. And it leads to one of several possible conclusions:
1: the conjencture out there is simply inaccurate, misrepresentative of the Nets actual intentions.
2: the Nets are hopeful this is something the fan base will buy into, believing that we all think so short term, with the inability to evaluate the long term or evaluate context, that we can’t see through this.
3: the Nets actually have made this decision. Were that the case, it would show that they lack a plan, lack any sort of direction or actual vision with their moves.
I do not believe option 3 is the correct choice here, and certainly hope it is not. My bet would be on option 1, with a hedge on option 2.
III. It’s Not the Time to be cheap with Paul Pierce.
The Nets knew they could not lose Gerald Wallace after dealing their 2012 pick for him: so they paid up. They knew they needed a piece Deron would respect: so they assumed Joe Johnson’s mammoth deal. They knew they needed Deron pack: they outbid the Mavericks by $30 million rather than play the market. THEY added Kevin to the Paul deal: so much for the goal of frugality.
And yet, NOW is the time? When they must keep Pierce because there is no suitable option out there to retain him, NOW is suddenly the time to stand on principle and keep him? I get that at some point the Nets cannot do this forever, but choosing to play hardball now, when they risk losing Pierce and getting nothing back for him, is not the time.
People want to feel wanted. They want to feel like they are a priority. The Nets have the ability to pay Pierce, really whatever they want. Are they really going to offer him a reported $6-$8 million on the market I described above: the market where Jodie Meeks got $6 million? Make a handsome offer. If he rejects, because his heart’s not here? I guess there’s nothing you can do, and you move on. But do not let the reason he leaves be, in any way, that the lynchpin of your offseason felt slighted by your offers.
IV. There is No Trade Out there That the Nets win, in all likelihood
Paul Pierce will be 37 to start the season. Nobody is going to deal for him what the Nets did. And nobody is going to deal the Nets a better player than Paul Pierce.
V. The Clippers: What to Make of the Rumors?
First things first, let’s make this clear: As an unrestricted free agent, Pierce can sign anywhere. He can sign into cap space, or to a team over the cap into an exception. The Nets cannot match the offer, or stop the process. So if Pierce wants out, he is not going to be a Net next year.
So what could be happening with all the Clipper rumors.
I. Pierce wants to be there, so this was initiated by the Clippers
Given some of the reports, this could be a possibility. Billy and Jeff unable to agree on a number, Doc talking to Paul, and trade rumors. The Clippers leverage: Paul can sign here outright so you have to deal with us. The catch? Given the Hawes signing, unless Hawes is sign and traded to the Clips, which requires they convey Crawford or Dudley, or Barnes + Bullock, and that the Cavs accept this offer, Hawes occupies the Clippers midlevel exception: their leverage on Pierce. Without it, Pierce cannot walk there.
Which makes this all interesting: given Cleveland’s resistance towards taking salary and goal of cutting it, why would they do a sign and trade with the Clippers to send them Hawes, and assume Clipper salary?
II. The Nets are Driving This
Perhaps the Nets think that this will be smart. Perhaps they believe Doc will overpay for Paul given his admiration of him. But do we really want a high usage low efficiency streak shooter in Crawford for a bedrock of our roster? Are you seriously telling me the Nets dealt a first round pick to have Pierce for a season – all that talk of leadership – to deal him for Jamal Crawford? Especially when Crawford wants an extension – how does that reconcile with “getting cheaper.”
There’s also talk of getting JJ Redick in a deal. Would Doc pay that much for Pierce? If he does, of course that’s probably the best Brooklyn can do. But again, Pierce was such a key cog to this roster. His plus minus and the net rating data was excellent. He scores, he played the 4 which opened our success up. Redick is much better than many believe but still is not as good as Paul right now.
Some will say Redick will have a longer future than Paul. But the Nets plan on reconstructing in 2016: at that point Paul will be gone, and while Redick is useful, cap space may be more valuable than his $7.4 million especially considering the goal of pitching players like Kevin Durant on creating a star laden Brooklyn roster. So in reality, their respective values beyond 2016 is not a huge factor here. What will help the Nets most in their 2016 pitch is the state of the roster: Paul will produce more wins from now until then than will JJ, and keeping him will show an air of credibility that would be helpful to showcase to stars.
So given the Clips pursuit of Hawes which could hurt their Paul acquisition ability, and the leaks of what the Nets want in a deal, it is possible this is Nets initiated: but I do not support it.
III. It’s Fueled by Jeff Schwartz as a leverage play
Billy King has played hardball with Pierce. There are reports of hoping he takes $6-8 million due to Nets salary issues: those could easily be Net related leaks to pressure Paul into a deal. So how does Pierce counter? His agent leaks that seven teams are interested (yes, this is a sourced report from Marc Stein who is excellent. The source is clearly some human being. I am hypothesizing that the source could be Schwartz).
As for the Clipper rumors? What better leverage play from Schwartz. My man is going to go play for his old coach … unless you pony up. Billy went public with the fact that the sides have distinct numbers in mind. All of this could easily be Schwartz leaking proposals with the Clips to the media to get Billy to pony up, and Billy countering with satisfactory proposals that would result in his not ponying up. There’s a reason so many sourced reporters — even of the best reporters — do not turn out to be accurate. Much information is leaked to the media by teams and agents — that’s how the media reports information to you — and by design, that information varies in its level of truth.
My point in all of this: NOBODY can say with definitive certainty what Pierce intends to do. If you’re reading this or discussing this with me, you probably are not Paul Pierce or Jeff Schwartz. Therefore, you are not 100% sure what is happening and what will happen. Some sourced reports, and some tea leaves, tend to indicate one thing, some tend to indicate something else. We simply will not have an answer until we have an answer.
IV. Stop Arguing That the Nets Need to Get Something Back If Paul is Gone
There is no bigger strawman in all of this than saying the Nets need something back for Pierce if he wants to leave: everyone agrees, and therefore arguing against the nonexistent position that we should let him walk is a strawman.
The argument I have made is the following: the Nets SHOULD want Pierce back, because the alternative is worse. And the Nets made deals and transactions demonstrating a commitment to Pierce and spending and gaining veteran leadership, so to argue they should let him go as a means of saving money and getting younger is wholly flawed. (I made those arguments in more length above).
V. The Rest of the Offseason: a Paul Pierce sized Holding Pattern
While the Nets have much work to do, and reportedly hope to make some roster changes, Pierce is clearly the holdup on a lot of what they do. They may keep him, or acquire a player for him who plays a different position. How to use the mini midlevel of $3.3 million. If Paul leaves is it Bogdanovic? Does that change if Paul stays? Is it someone else who Paul impacts? Does this impact the Jack trade? Do they trade Thornton for a forward instead of Paul leaves? Paul is the Nets’ biggest domino, holding up the Nets’ other transactions, as barring a Deron Brook or Joe trade, the rest of their moves will focus on lesser players than Paul.
Sources have informed “Carl2680” on Realgm.com, Tim Bontemps, and NetsDaily, that Jason Kidd is likely to leave the Nets. According to Bontemps’ sources, Kidd approached ownership with numerous demands, particularly requesting oversight of Nets’ basketball operations (though not for Billy’s dismissal). The demands were rejected, and apparently Kidd has permission to speak with the Bucks about working with their organization.
The reports are absolute bombshells, of which I have a wide array of opinions.
I. I Do Sympathize With Kidd Wanting More Than What He Has
I am a huge Nets fan and want this to end in a way that’s best for the Nets: that must be made crystal clear. However, I do understand why Kidd has approached ownership with demands, in the abstract. Kidd is on a 3 year, $10 million contract. When hired, that was the going rate for new hires.
However, Derek Fisher (also right out of the league) and Steve Kerr just got 5 year $25 million deals to coach, with no experience. David Blatt has international coaching experience but no head coaching experience in the NBA, and got 4 years, $20 million.
So I understand Kidd wanting more than the 3 years, $10 million he has been provided. He sees others in his shoes being paid more by less rich owners, and this comes after taking the Nets to the second round.
I totally understand that he would want more money and would pull a leverage play to get it – “I am a franchise icon, a face of your franchise, and can sell free agents on your franchise – free agents you need given your pick situation. You need me more than I need you, so fork some cash over.”
II. Unless the End Game is His Returning With A Bigger Salary, His Demands Concerning Becoming General Manager are Completely Unreasonable
This is simply obvious, for me. It would be unprecedented for a coach, after one season, to obtain personnel power. And not only personnel power, but to become the GM of their franchise. Kidd could have come in this season and piloted the Nets to 65 wins and a championship. If he subsequently marched to ownership and demanded Billy’s job, that would be unreasonable.
Not to mention, Kidd should be thankful to Billy for the position he is in. Billy took much grief for his decision to hire Jason. He did not seem to want to initially, but did so, and has spent much time explaining the move and taking heat for the move.
While the Knicks did hire Fisher this summer, when Kidd was hired, it was unprecedented for a team to hire a coach immediately upon retirement. The move was scrutinized for that reason: Kidd received an opportunity nobody really has ever received, and Billy gave him that very opportunity. To demand, essentially, his job (he did not want him fired, but wanted control over operations: so he clearly wants Billy demoted), is callous.
If Jason did it under the thinking that he could meet with a team like Milwaukee, get them to offer him a job for more money than Brooklyn, and then come back to Brooklyn and say “hey, I want more money, and if you don’t give me that, and a small piece of front office stake, I’ll go there?” If that gets the Nets to give him some more cash and a piece of front office power? Then that’s fine: it’s callous, but people negotiate to make their lives better, all the time.
But if Kidd really did this on the belief that he should be the GM and coach of the Nets, that he should have what Stan Van Gundy and Doc Rivers have? That is simply unreasonable. According again to NetsDaily, Kidd takes exception to Kerr and Fisher’s compensation, and Doc Rivers’ power in LA. His issue with the former? Totally reasonable, even totally expected.
His issue with the latter? Doc had 14 years of experience before the Clippers gave him front office power? He won a championship, reached a second finals, won 64 playoff games and 11 playoff series, and won a coach of the year award. Kidd simply does not have that cache or those credentials in the coaching world. To expect that type of stature within it, and to undercut the man who gambled on him in asking for it, is simply unreasonable.
III. I Hope This Works Out For Brooklyn
My primary worry for the Nets is if this affects their free agency plans. A big part of Shaun Livingston coming here was Kidd. Kidd helped pitch the Boston guys on coming here. Kidd is a name with big cache among current NBA players because of who he is do the game and how recently he played. Does his leaving totally kill the Nets this summer? Can’t say. But it’s hard to say it helps on that front. We simply have to hope it does not.
IV. If He Leaves, Where Does Brooklyn Turn
This would put the Nets in a bind. At some point you want stability at the top spot. The Nets could go with a top flight assistant so that they can do that. Mark Jackson is more popular among traditional NBA guys than analytics guys: maybe Billy takes a look. Or maybe they circle to Lionel Hollins and George Karl, but the Nets did not seem interested in the older coaches a summer ago.
Kidd is irked that he makes less than other first timers, particularly the first timer across the river hired under extremely circumstances. He wants to leverage more money. He has. The Nets will get over it. Kidd will get over it. The Bucks will not hand him control of the entire organization: this apparent plan to take his act to Milwaukee seems halfcocked. Kidd will use this to leverage more money from the Nets, and will get that money.
The NBA is officially in offseason mode, full of incessant smokescreens rumors. The Nets face a tough offseason as I discuss here. So, who should the Nets keep? Who should they dump and let be someone else’s problem.
Here’s our staff with their takes on what the Nets should do with a special appearance from @mrsBKLYNsbeat! And at the end of the column, you be the judge: vote on your takes!
Justin Salkin (@brooklynsbeat): Keep. I’ll be touching on this more with a post on Williams, but there’s no way to get fair value for him in a deal, and the Nets best chance at contention, even if it’s a slim one, is keeping him onboard.
Dylan Mendelowitz (@MendNBA): Dump: His entire Nets career so far has been an epic fail. It’s in the best interest of both sides to move on. Toodles, Deron.
Robert Watts (@bobbywatts_): Keep. We all know what D-Will can do when healthy. Lets give him a chance and see how he bounces back post-surgery on both ankles after a very underwhelming season.
Anthony Pignatti (@apignatti360): Dump. I’ve long defended Deron and attributed his poor play to his injuries. But it’s time as fans, management, and probably himself, to stop envisioning a Utah-esk version to magically put on a Brooklyn uniform. It’s not happening. Move on sooner rather than later.
@MrsBKLYNsbeat: Dump: There’s no room for divas. He’s a ball stopper. You see the unselfish play of the Spurs, and he’s the reason why we can’t be like that.
Justin: Keep. He was awesome this year, and given his contract there’s simply no way to trade him for better player value.
Dylan: Keep: No-brainer. He was the Nets best player this season. Joe Jesus definitely stays.
Robert: Keep. Really no explanation needed. Near impossible to move him and there’s no reason for us to move him. Our only All-Star last season and our Nets MVP.
Anthony: Keep. Really not much to think about here. He had a pretty good regular season, and topped it off with a phenomenal postseason. When teams specifically adjust their defense to try and keep a guy in check, he’s a good guy to have on the roster. May be overpaid, but still one of the top SGs in the league.
@MrsBKLYNsbeat: Keep. He’s our go to man, and the pressure doesn’t get to him. He’s the one you want taking the last shot.
Justin: Keep. There’s no way to replace him in free agency, and he was instrumental to the smallball attack that finished the year so strongly.
Dylan: Keep. It’s impossible for the Nets to replace him, and he’s clearly the leader of the team. Need him back.
Robert: Keep. If we lose him there’s nobody on the free agent market that we can replace him with that is on the same level as him skill wise and intangible wise.
Anthony: Keep. Not as consistent as the Paul Pierce we’ve all grown to know over the years, but he’s still capable of initiating offense, creating off the, and hitting shots. Love his attitude on this team, as well. Pretty simple: Is there anyone else better on the market?
@MrsBKLYNsbeat: Keep. He’s a leader, and he still has some legs in him thanks to Kidd and his time management.
Justin: Keep. Even as a lesser player he still has an impact on D, especially when his J is falling.
Dylan: Keep. Only as a role player or backup. He’s not a starter anymore and can’t play more than 15-20 minutes a game.
Robert: Keep. Contract is fully guaranteed for next season so might as well. Great mentor to the young bigs.
Anthony: Keep. Offensively, a complete shell of what he once was. But defensively, a complete game-changer. Off the court, he’ll continue to help mold Brook and Plumlee.
@mrsBKLYNsbeat: Keep. Even if he has no legs left in him next year, he will be that cheerleader from the bench, and will give confidence to younger players like Plumlee.
Justin: Keep. Anthony was spot on in this piece.
Dylan: Dump. I WANT to keep Lopez, but I don’t think he works in a Jason Kidd led system. Probably best to test the market and see what you can get for him.
Robert: Keep. Same explanation as Deron Williams.
Anthony: Keep. An in-depth piece on why retaining Brook is necessary will be up this summer. Stay tuned!
@mrsBKLYNsbeat: Keep . . . for now. But trade him at midseason after he shows he’s not damaged goods so we can get value for him. Plumlee is filling his shoes well, and this way, we can get a good piece for Brook at another position without a foot problem.
Justin: Keep. The most a free agent can get from the Nets is $3.28 million, he’s worth that, and to get a better player at the price is a tall order.
Dylan: Keep. He was the most important player for the Nets this year, in my opinion. Made everything work. Great glue guy.
Robert: Keep. Was one of the most important players on the team last season and should only be getting better.
Anthony: Keep. I highly doubt that will happen, though. I think he’s getting more credit than he deserves for last year. Great story, yes, but he’s a liability in what has become a deep shooting league. Teams will overpay for his services, and he’ll undoubtedly take it.
@mrsBKLYNsbeat: Keep. I think his teammates have more respect for him than Deron. He keeps the ball moving and has fresher legs than Deron.
Justin: Keep. Ditto with Livingston, hope he exercises that player option (as
Dylan: Dump. He does the little things that Andrei Kirilenko does, but he’s lost everything on offense. Plus, it’s impossible for him to stay on the floor. When is he not dealing with an injury?
Robert:Keep. Very versatile playing both forward spots. Nets had great success with him on the floor last season.
Anthony: Keep. He’s probably worth more than what he is getting paid. Remember, he took a significant paycut to sign on last summer. Great bball IQ guy to have around.
@mrsBKLYNsbeat: Keep, because I think he’s worth his contract, but hopefully the Nets figure out his back problems.
Justin: Keep. The modern game is big on guards penetrating and kicking to shooters. He’s the perfect role player, and again, there’s not much out there to replace the production.
Dylan: Keep. Mirza has one of the purest jumpers in the NBA today. Great role player, it’s a no-brainer to keep him.
Robert: Keep. Had a breakout year from 3 last season due to coaching change. Best is yet to come.
Anthony: Keep. Made great strides last year. His confidence is his biggest enemy. I expect he’ll only get better next season.
@mrsBKLYNsbeat: Keep. He seems to have found his niche with the 3, and we need that outside shooter.
Justin: Dump. I like his passion but feel Kidd likes him too much, and I don’t want him tempted into overplaying him: prefer a backup 3 who fits the system better.
Dylan: Dump. Plays very hard and with a lot of energy and I respect that. However, he’s a “shooter” who can’t shoot (40% from the field), and seems to have a low BBIQ. Takes some pretty dumb shots. Let him walk.
Robert: Keep. Nice glue guy and underrated defender. Super competitor off the bench.
Anthony: Keep. Passionate guy and a pretty good defender. Also: great cheerleader. He had too much of a role last year, as I’d like him further down the bench. But he’s a worthy contributor in short stints.
@mrsBKLYNsbeat: Keep. I think he’s a good backup to Joe Johnson, he brings good energy off the bench, and even when he’s off the court he seems to raise the spirits of his teammates.
Justin: Probably keep, but if the Nets can turn his 1 year deal into a more gruesome 2 year deal for a better player, they should try, kind of like the supersize on the deal they got him through.
Dylan: Keep. But don’t hesitate to dump his expiring in a Deron/Brook deal, if given the opportunity. He’s a good piece off the bench whenever Brooklyn needs some offense. Can score a lot in a little amount of time.
Robert: Keep. Very good shooter off the bench and brings a competitive edge.
Anthony: Keep. Mostly because his $8 mil deal is expiring and the Nets could use the cap space. Other than occasionally lighting it up, he doesn’t do much well. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was floated around in trade rumors this summer and even at next year’s trade deadline.
@mrsBKLYNsbeat: Keep. I was pleasantly surprised by him. I still think he can learn a lot from the veterans to make himself better.
Justin: Keep. With so many limits in building the roster, the Nets really need internal improvement, something Mase can provide.
Dylan: Keep. The 4th best rookie from a year ago has to come back. Billy King absolutely nailed it in picking Mighty Mase. One of the few young, athletic, potential filled players Brooklyn has.
Robert: Keep. Duh.
Anthony: Keep. Our only young asset with potential. Yes. Keep
@mrsBKLYNsbeat: Definitely keep. I’m so excited to watch him play next year.
Justin: Dump. Offense gets guys paid and I see someone wanting to overpay Dray; he’s not worth the 4/$25 early bird money and his defense and decision making are hurtful. 4 smalls 1 big requires a big that can guard, Nets don’t need his scoring.
Dylan: Dump. If only he were a smarter player. He seems very prone to boneheaded plays and get the sense he’s a time-bomb just waiting to explode. Extremely talented, he’s just not the smartest of the bunch. I think it’s time to let him walk and get a big contract elsewhere.
Robert: Keep. Despite the popular opinion he actually has more good plays than bad. Was one of the best big men to come off of the bench in the league.
Anthony: Dump. With the news of him opting out, he’ll undoubtedly seek a more lucrative deal. I would have kept him at under $1.5 mil. For the bonehead plays he makes and despicable defense, there was still value on that deal he was on. Time to move on.
@mrsBKLYNsbeat: Bye bye Blatche. Lay off the donuts buddy. He’s letting his bad habits from the Wizards affect his play again.
Justin: Keep. Why not? He’s a decent enough third string point guard, and that’s what he’s here to do. A replacement isn’t moving the needle and perhaps he improves too.
Dylan: Keep. Showed some flashes of being a solid backup this year. With a point guard legend in Jason Kidd coaching him, I think Gutz can be a rock solid backup, definitely worth a spot on the roster.
Robert: Keep. Very nice game manager. Most Net fans are comfortable with him in the game.
Anthony: Keep. No harm in keeping him on. Seemed to be competent in running offense, pretty much all you can ask of a guy who’s one of the last guys off the bench.
@mrsBKLYNsbeat: Keep: He’s worth his nonguaranteed contract. He has passion for the game. Whenever he went on the floor the team played with high energy. Throwing him in the mix caught other teams off guard.
Justin: Dump. It seems his life course now is about his humanitarian human rights efforts. Congratulations to a great man, and best of luck.
Dylan: Dump. It’s pretty obvious this was the last go for Jason Collins. Jason is a terrific and courageous person, just not a good basketball player anymore.
Robert: Dump. He’s probably going to retire anyway.
Anthony: Dump. Congratulations on making history and for taking me back to the early 2000s. Great story. But you’re role in the NBA is most likely finished.
@mrsBKLYNsbeat: Keep. He was worth the money and he is a solid defensive player. We got value out of him.
Justin: Dump. He showed he’s honestly not even an NBA caliber player (unlike Gutierrez), and if the Nets find a taker in a deal, they should pull the trigger.
Dylan: Dump. Is he even a D-League starter? Whenever he got playing time, he looked awful. Not an NBA caliber player in any way.
Robert: DUMP. Brings virtually nothing positive to the team. Organization is just banking on him to breakout like his brother Jeff did but that’s highly unlikely.
Anthony: Dump. I see no potential whatsoever. He’s hardly worth even mentioning as a guy on the roster.
@mrsBKLYNsbeat: Dump. Can we get his brother?
Justin: Keep. For all the flack he gets, that he put together a near contender, which basically gave Miami its tougheast eastern conference challenge, and did so with his two lead players plagued with foot issues, does say a lot about him to the good. Billy’s experiment failed due to Deron’s unforeseeable struggles, which are on Deron, not Billy.
Dylan: Keep. Billy did an admirable job putting the team in the best possible position to win a title. Just because they didn’t doesn’t mean he deserves to be canned. He’s done a very good job since being hired and deserves to stay.
Robert: Dump. Mortgaged future assets for two stars and sixth man past his prime when those assets could’ve been used for better things *cough* Kevin Love.
Anthony: Keep. While he’s at an advantage being able to spend Prokorhov’s money, but he’s really has done a great job in assembling competitive teams in Brooklyn. The issue hasn’t been getting players to come here. It’s been chemistry and a max PG subdued to mediocrity. Can’t fault Billy for that.
@mrsBKLYNsbeat: Keep. Even though Deron sucks, Billy is the man. He thought outside the box when we had no cap space.
Justin: Keep. What better candidate is out there? Kidd did a good job molding the defense, and creating an offense that played to the team’s strengths. He toyed with lineups, and worked diligently finding the best combinations for this roster, including moves like replacing Brook with a point guard, going small, and paint packing on Miami, which was effective in May. Young players also developed positively under Jason. Finally, who wants the job if Prokohorov cans another coach so quickly.
Dylan: Keep. While he struggled to get a handle on things early, Kidd improved significantly and became one of the better coaches in the NBA. His system might not be the best for this roster, but he’ll most definitely be here a very long time. No brainer.
Robert: Keep. Heaps of potential and is only going to get better from here on out.
Anthony: Keep. I wasn’t ecstatic about bringing him in to begin with. I wasn’t blown away with how he did this season. And I hated how he handled the media (awfully cliche). But I think he has potential, and great organizations need stability. Let’s give him a chance.
@mrsBKLYNsbeat: Keep, as long as he doesn’t wear a tie! He is important for the longevity of our older players because he understands what it’s like to be close to retirement, and the importance of time management for keeping the legs of the veterans fresh.
Nets fans: with the offseason upon us, what are the Nets likely to do with each of their pieces? Here is a brief look at the entire roster, and what the Nets could look to do.
The Free Agents, In Priority Order
Paul Pierce: While Billy King said Livingston was his top priority, Pierce is the key to the Nets offseason. If he leaves, they can only replace him with free agent deals up to $3.28 million: good luck. The Nets can pay Pierce more than most suitors, and given their plan is to have salary cap room in 2016 to retool around that vaunted free agent class, can offer him big money through 2016 without repercussion. Likely Scenario: The Nets will offer a deal in the 2 year, $24 million neighborhood, and Pierce decides between that, a $3.28 mini midlevel offer from the Spurs or Clippers, or as a wildcard, a return to Boston if they secure Love’s services prior to the draft. We have to hope he chooses to be back in the fold. If he leaves, there’s no real way to replace him. Prediction: HE’S BACK. Prediction Confidence: LOW
Shaun Livingston: Some fan ire for Livingston is confusing. True, he isn’t a shooter, which is the most obvious role player skill. But he runs the offense, and is a great defender who can guard multiple positions which allows for switches on the constant PNR’s teams run. He’s worth every penny of the max $3.28 million per year over three years Brooklyn can offer. Likely Scenario: The Nets offer this above deal to Shaun. A few other teams offer deals in the 4 year $20-25 million neighborhood. Shaun will have to decide how much his love for Brooklyn and Jason Kidd is worth in his wallet. Prediction: HE’S GONE. Prediction Confidence: HIGH
Andrei Kirilenko: Kirilenko was valuable to the Nets with his ability to guard multiple positions, and cause havoc with his energy and activity. Injuries limited him both in games played, and in impact–he simply did not have his legs on some nights of the year. Likely Scenario: With a $3.3 million player option, and the Nets offering their mini MLE to Shaun, Kirilenko either picks up the option, or declines it and signs elsewhere. Prediction: HE’S BACK. Prediction Confidence: LOW.
Andray Blatche: Blatche deserves credit for playing well in games 6 and 7 against Toronto, and while he regressed somewhat this year, he did not crater, and validated that he is an improved player. However, teams pay for offense in this league, and the Nets need a better defensive big. Likely Scenario: The Nets can offer up to 4 years, $25 million to secure Blatche, but do not. Someone offers Blatche a 3 year deal too rich for Brooklyn’s blood; perhaps Billy attempts to sell Blatche on staying for a bit less cash. Prediction: HE’S GONE. Prediction Confidence: LOW.
Alan Anderson: Despite receiving some fan based ire this year, Anderson was brought in as a 15th man, and had a solid year considering the expectations for him specifically. He’s a useful bench piece despite his flaws. Likely Scenario: A team offers Anderson their mini midlevel, or a deal in the $2-3 million neighborhood. Once again, the Nets are selling Brooklyn and the roster over cash. Prediction: HE’S GONE. Prediction Confidence: LOW.
Jason Collins: Jason Collins clearly broke barriers in becoming a Net, and deserves much adulation for his courage, for being a pioneer, and for being a great man. He has two NBA skills at this point: he can set screens, and he can guard traditional back to the basket bigs. That leaves him playable against certain teams, when circumstances warrant. Likely Scenario: Collins retires, pursuing a life of impotant, critical social endeavors that are before him. Prediction: HE’S GONE. Prediction Confidence: HIGH.
THE PLAYERS UNDER CONTRACT, IN ORDER OF SALARY
Joe Johnson: I cannot say enough about Joe and what he’s done as a Net. After a down year in which he was adjusting to playing with Deron (another ball dominant guard) and hurt his plantar fascia by the time he adjusted, Joe put together a great all around year and even better playoffs. Likely Scenario: The Nets just keep him: nobody will deal for his mammoth deal and send fair value back anyway. Prediction: HE’S BACK. Prediction Confidence: HIGH.
Deron Williams: This will be discussed more on this site, but it’s without dispute that Deron had a disappointing year. The question: how should the Nets respond to that this summer. Likely Scenario: The Nets shop him, at least quietly, as they test the market for him and/or seriously entertain offers. Prediction: HE’S BACK. Prediction Confidence: LOW.
Brook Lopez: This was a sad year for Brook. He became an all star, looked to be building on it, and then goes down for the season. His absence may have led to Brooklyn discovering an effective brand of smallball, but they missed him against Miami, and now must ponder: integrate him in, or deal a man with a damaged foot? Likely Scenario: The Nets test the market as with Deron, but do so a bit more quietly, as this is truly more of a gauge of the other 29 teams’ feelings. Prediction: HE’S BACK. Prediction Confidence: HIGH.
Kevin Garnett: Often, we tend as a sports world to say a player is finished because he isn’t who he was, even though he’s still good. That’s KG right now: he’s nowhere near who he was, but he’s still a good defender and shooter, who was instrumental with his J and passing from the high post, and in piloting the Nets defense. Likely Scenario: He will mull retirement. If he does not retire he will be back: the Nets could shop him but that seems remote. Prediction: HE’S GONE. Prediction Confidence: LOW.
Marcus Thornton: The Thornton acquisition was an example of what Prokhorov’s wallet allows Brooklyn to do despite lacking cap space or assets. Teams under this CBA are hellbent on saving money, and the Kings saved a sliver in dealing Thornton, and made saving slivers more this summer easier: the Nets took advantage. Likely Scenario: The Nets look at making a similar deal of Thornton to the one that got him here: a better talent on an even worse deal, but that deal is hard to come by. Prediction: HE’S BACK. Prediction Confidence: HIGH.
Mirza Teletovic: Teletovic and the Nets fanbase is oddly weird for me. One sector of fans seems to revere him, and he has nicknames like King of Bosnia. Another sector thinks he’s awful. The truth is in the middle. Today’s NBA puts a premium on shooting, and he’s a 39% three point shooter — an excellent figure. He also is on a friendly contract. Likely Scenario: There’s no real one for one deal with Mirza that improves the team, and for those wanting more draft picks, no team will deal a first for Mirza. Mirza could be dealt if the Nets locate a blockbuster and he greases the skids for the other team in the deal. Prediction: HE’S BACK. Prediction Confidence: HIGH.
Mason Plumlee: Plumlee was a revelation this year, making the all rookie team as the 22nd pick in the draft. While he’s not as good as many believe: he struggles to rebound, he fails to grasp some basic defensive concepts, and he can’t shoot, he’s also a lunch pail type of worker, and has the drive to improve. Likely Scenario: Brooklyn is youth starved, and given its reliance on the current roster holding together due to its lack of cap room and assets, internal improvement is essential. Plumlee is one of few who can provide that given his age. He would be included in any deal for a significant roster addition, but given the lack of assets, what is available to Brooklyn? Prediction: HE’S BACK. Prediction Confidence: HIGH.
Marquis Teague: Teague is simply not an NBA level player. While that may sound harsh, he showed no discernible NBA skill for Brooklyn.Likely Scenario: The Nets have a premium on the entire roster and will likely look to deal him away for a nonguaranteed deal, just to get rid of Teague. He makes about $1.1 million, so there’s no point of attaching a pick to make it happen: dumping him would be helpful but he’s not exactly damaging the franchise. The Nets also could look to include him if they make any larger deals, just because. Prediction: HE’S BACK. Prediction Confidence: LOW.
Jorge Gutierrez: Gutierrez is also disliked by some, for reasons totally unknown. He is a third string point guard, and its hard to expect more of a third stringer than what he provided. He’s a decent reserve who has a few viable skills (his passing, his work ethic defensively), and several weaknesses — hard to expect more out of a guy on a nonguaranteed deal under $1 million. Likely Scenario: Gutierrez was signed to a nonguaranteed deal, which basically means the Nets have given him another training camp invite, but this time have done so after signing him Prediction: HE’S BACK. Prediction Confidence: LOW.
A Note On Why the Nets MUST Try to Win, and Win Now
Just a note about the Nets plan. There’s some talk out there that the Nets should rebuild. The thing is this: rebuild with what? The Nets cannot tank for a lottery pick until 2019: they do not have picks in 2014, 2016, 0r 2018, and because Atlanta and Boston get to swap with them in 2015 and 2017, they can only pick in the lottery in those years if those teams are also bad, something the Nets cannot really bank on. And while trades may be available to the Nets: who recoups multiple first round picks?
Rebuilding sounds appealing in the abstract, but from where the Nets are, initiating a rebuild would put the Nets in a brutal position: the lottery, without the draft picks or trade assets to get out.
Maybe keeping this core through 2016, when they can reinvent, does not breed a championship, but if the Nets can win games, be relevant in the playoffs, through 2016, it can make Brooklyn a place free agents look at and say “I can see myself doing well there, being the missing piece in a fun city.”
The Nets had no free agent appeal in New Jersey, and used the Deron trade to force their way into the picture. Since then, Mirza chose to begin his career here, Alan Anderson and Andrei Kirilenko took less money to come here, and indications have surfaced that Brooklyn is becoming a place to be. Big name talent has always wanted to play in the league’s most fun cities, when those teams have an attractive core. Kevin Garnett, during the trade presser this summer, discussed how him and Paul Pierce were intrigued by the “bones” of what Brooklyn had: it is notable that they both decided this was where they wanted to be, and that Jeff Schwartz helped make that happen.
That’s an appeal the Nets, if they went into a rebuild, could lose.
Here’s hoping the sun shines brightly on the Nets during the offseason!